Roger Federer: It’s going to be quite emotional playing in South Africa
CAPE TOWN - Trevor Noah might be a funny man, but Roger Federer has assured the comedian that he won’t be the butt of jokes for his tennis ability at the Match In Africa at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday.
The 20-time Grand Slam singles champion arrived in the Mother City on Wednesday afternoon after a quick trip to Namibia, where he spent some time with schoolchildren who receive assistance from the Roger Federer Foundation.
The 38-year-old also visited Namibia’s President Hage Geingob before flying to Cape Town, where he smiled and hesitated a bit when asked about Noah’s tennis prowess.
“I’ve only seen videos of him! But he doesn’t need to look worried, as we will make him look good too,” Federer said at a press conference at the Cape Town International Airport.
“Trevor has done amazing things with his show, and I only met him briefly once in New York. I felt if there’s someone who would fit in nicely in this event – with him half-Swiss and half-South African, and hopefully people will be happy to see him as well – showing that if you work hard and believe in yourself, you can make it really far. And all four of us can speak the same language.”
Federer was more forthcoming on his partner on Friday, Bill Gates, who will take on Noah and Rafael Nadal in a celebrity doubles match, before the two big guns face off in a singles encounter.
“In his last match with me, he didn’t miss a single first serve in his two games! Bill Gates has been amazing for my foundation,” he said.
“He has been at the one in Seattle and San Jose over the last few years, and I have gotten to know his wife and his team at the foundation. Spending some time with him and getting his support has meant a lot and you learn a lot.”
There will be a world record crowd of 50 000 for a tennis match at Cape Town Stadium, and while it has taken Federer several years to make it happen, he is delighted that he will finally play in the country of his mother Lynette’s birth.
“I’m happy that it’s taking place in South Africa, a place that I have come to as a child. I think it’s going to be quite emotional, to be honest, as I wanted to play in South Africa for many, many years. I can’t believe it’s taken this long, but I’m fortunate enough to make it happen while I am still active on the tour,” he said.
“The speed of life here in Africa has definitely been good for me. Growing up, she has always been an open-house type – my dad actually too. He is more from the land as well in Switzerland.
“I love having people around and being a good host, and that’s what I’ve learned a lot from my mom. She is tough, but fair. I enjoyed my vacations here as a little boy, and I wished I could’ve come here more often over the last 20 years.”
Nadal, who has 19 Grand Slam singles titles, is set to arrive in Cape Town on Thursday from Kuwait, where he is opening an academy bearing his name.